Staff Picks 2017 April

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Staff Picks April 2017 (1.8MB)
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The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. Carrying the scars of twelve bullet holes, Samuel Hawley finally faces his criminal past while working to protect his daughter Loo from those mistakes.This novel weaves back and forth through time from Alaska to the Adirondacks of New York, finally settling on the shores of Massachusetts. Here they learn to survive Loo's teenage years as Samuel struggles to free them both from his past. ~ Sue Rice

This book is a coming of age story, a violent crime thriller, and an exploration of the parent/child relationship all rolled into one. Beautifully written, meticulously thought out, and perfectly set in a small New England fishing community, this book has become one of my new favorites. ~ Molly Halpin

The Rules Do Not Apply: A MemoirThe Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy. This riveting memoir by spirited author and New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy begins with terrible loss. An honest,self-deprecating. and empathic self-examination of what it takes to survive grief. The author learns that life is not lived within circumscription, nor with the belief of "getting it all," but with courage, humility and empathy. ~ Amy Palmer
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your LifeDear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li. A thoughtful, beautifully observant memoir on despair, heritage, and the solace of reading. I read this book in a single quiet sitting, possessed by the magic of Li's writing.~ Cathy Taylor
What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest WarsWhat Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars by David Wood. American warriors who killed enemy soldiers, civilians, and children in Iraq and Afghanistan often suffer moral injury. Haunted by their acts of killing, many resort to violence, drugs, or suicide. Wood offers veterans understanding and empathy, and demonstrates that in war no one is entirely blameless, and no guilt should be shouldered alone. ~ Mike Hare
How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016 by P. J. O'Rourke. The author gleefully skewers the political parties, profuse primaries, confusing caucuses, and chuckleheaded candidates that lurched and spat through the grueling, graceless presidential campaign of 2016. With O'Rourke, gallows humor trumps despair. ~ Mike Hare
Lust & Wonder: A MemoirLust & Wonder: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. In his latest memoir Burroughs delves into his relationships, his obsessions, fantasies and fears with humor, pathos, reflection and truth. By exposing the quirky twists of his mind, Burroughs plumbs what it is to be human. ~ Amy Palmer
Maeve's Times: In Her Own WordsMaeve's Times: In Her Own Words by Maeve Binchy. This is a fabulous compilation of Maeve's journalistic work with the Irish Times, where she honed her skills and developed her ability to tell great stories about instances of grace in humanity. A perfect read with a cuppa tea! ~ Maeve Noonan
All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. A hauntingly beautiful novel, set mostly in Saint Malo, France, a city walled in by stone and sea, during WWII. We experience the lives of Marie-Laure, a young, blind, French girl fleeing war-torn Paris and Werner Pfennig, a young German boy thrown into becoming a Nazi soldier. Their integrity is inspiring and the way their stories ultimately connect is wonderful. A must read! ~ Becky Doherty
Vinegar GirlVinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. Kate Battista is young, but her life is full of responsibilities. She takes care of the household, her sister and her absent minded scientist father. As if this was not enough, the pressure is on after her father involves her in a crazy plan to save his lab assistant from deportation. A modern version of the Taming of the Shrew, this book's characters will stay with you long after you finish reading it. ~ Adriana Gómez Piccolo
BarkskinsBarkskins by Annie Proulx. This novel rightfully belongs to a select group that are worthy of being regarded as examples of epic American literature. The centuriesspanning story of a single family, working in various aspects of the timber industry, is Ms. Proulx's best book since The Shipping News. Reading it is a little like taking a ride down a raging river in the wilderness, but the author's abiding concern for the sanctity of nature is evident on every page. Don't let its length deter you, this is a literary journey well worth taking. ~ Alden Graves
The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the CalifornianThe Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer. Finally, a novel about the Titanic tragedy that is worthy of its subject! This is a fascinating examination of one of the enduring mysteries surrounding the sinking: Why did another ship ignore the liner's distress signals? There has always been a controversy as to how close the Californian was to the Titanic, but reports by crewman that the big ship in the distance was sending up rockets failed to move Captain Stanley Lord into action. This is an astonishingly accurate recreation of one of the 20th century's most traumatic events. ~ Alden Graves
The IdiotThe Idiot by Elife Batuman. A young woman enters college, discovers email, and falls in love -- with both a fellow student and language. These loves are tricky and intertwined and they awaken in Selin new, sharp ways of perceiving the world. If you're a fan of coming-of-age stories, clever observations, and really good writing, this book is for you. I loved every word. ~ Cathy Taylor
A Simple FavorA Simple Favor by Darcey Bell. What begins as the search for a missing wife and mother turns into a psychological thriller that sneaks up on the reader in a splendidly disturbing way. I couldn't put this book down! ~ Sarah Donner
The RefugeesThe Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen. This is a superb collection of short stories so complete, well crafted and very timely. By the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Sympathizer. ~ Liz Barnum
A Book of American MartyrsA Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates. Our actions have consequences that are sometimes devastating to others. To what extreme do we act on our convictions when lives can be destroyed in the process? The author examines this conundrum in this powerful and timely book. ~ Liz Barnum
HimselfHimself by Jess Kidd. The main character in this novel is Mahony, a man haunted by the shades of his past. He relies on a bevy of spirits to solve the mystery of his own life's inception. As insightful as Erdrich or even Faulkner, yet whimsical, lush and truly earthy. As I read this book I could smell the peat fires and taste the wind that comes off the wild side of the Atlantic. Magic, this is; pure "craic" (good times) as the Irish say. ~ Maeven Noonan
Find MeFind Me by J. S. Monroe. A man struggles to accept his fiancee's suicide five years previously. He catches brief glimpses of her, making his friends think he is cracking up. But maybe he's onto something. Is her story just as cut and dried as the authorities would have him believe? He stumbles into a story of governmental intrigue and misdirects...or does he? This novel will keep you guessing, starting slowly and gathering steam until the absolute end, when it all makes perfect sense. ~ Shirley Cagle
The Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip with the Pope and the Dalai LamaThe Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip with the Pope and the Dalai Lama by Roland Merullo. With humor and wisdom born of a life lived with empathy and humanism, Merullo imagines a scenario where the Pope and the Dalai Lama attempt to disguise themselves and contemplate the real nature of their mission. Part madcap caper and part spiritual retreat, the novel shows the "all too human" side of these religious leaders. Characters from the Breakfast With Buddha trilogy make an appearance bringing this author's theme full circle. ~ Karen Frank
The Ashes of LondonThe Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor. In the early autumn of 1666, a catastrophic fire consumed a large portion of the City of London. Before the ashes had even cooled, a murdered man's badly charred body was discovered in the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. Clues pointed to the involvement of a person also wanted for his role in the public execution of Charles I, a fact that provoked considerable interest in the fugitive's apprehension from the current monarch, the dead king's son. This is such a painstakingly researched and marvelously atmospheric thriller, you can almost smell the smoke wafting up from the pages. ~ Alden Graves
The Hearts of MenThe Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler. This is a great coming of age story that follows three generations of men whose lives are tied together through a Boy Scout Camp in Wisconsin. Bravery, kindness and decency lie at it's core. ~ Liz Barnum
A Horse Walks Into a BarA Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman. A remarkable, unusual story! To watch this stand up comedian bare his soul and relive painful memories during the course of his routine in an Israeli comedy club is psychologically and emotionally intense. ~ Liz Barnum
Border ChildBorder Child by Michel Stone. A young, poor Mexican mother seeks to illegally join her husband in America, and their baby daughter is lost at the border. The uncertainty and precariousness of the search spark tension, anger, despair, and fitful hope. These are full-blooded characters, miles removed from callow stereotypes. ~ Mike Hare
The Fifth PetalThe Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry. A mysterious five petal scar. A possible banshee. A present day murder in Salem, Massachusetts which may linked to an unsolved 1989 murder which may be linked to the Salem witch trials of the 18th century. Characters from The Lace Reader are back in a mystery with a touch of the psychological and a dash of history. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap